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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 06:09 am:   

OK, we've talked a lot about movies on this board, so I thought I would start a thread to try and tie our literary bent into our love of film. This thread is a place to discuss favorite adaptations of literary works (there is another thread for favorite...). There are no restrictions; you can talk everything from Shakespeare and Anthony Burgess to Bob Kane and Howard Waldrop. Anything. If you have a predilection for video games made into movies, list those too. Even remakes of foreign films are fair play here. The only rule is that the film you are talking about if adapted from its original source.

Off the top of my head, since there are so many bad adaptations of books, I have two that came out either in the same year, or very close together. Both are remakes of canonized books, and both showed incredible promise at their start, but fell apart horribly at the end. They become least favorite for me because of my inordinate disappointment upon the completion of the film. They are:

Kenneth Branaugh's Frankenstein
Coppola's Dracula

I was more upset by the Frankenstein, because I felt they had done so much of it correctly, and then added the stupid romance crap at the end. I know in the novel Frankenstein does make a female for his monster, but he destroys almost immediately, and it was not anyone that Frankenstein knew. Grrr. I almost walked out of the theater with five minutes left.

JK
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 08:58 am:   

The Haunting - the one from 1999. That was easily the worst film I saw that year. I would have walked out, but I went with a few friends and would have felt bad about leaving them.

Branaugh's Frankenstein was awful too. Dracula was pretty, but had the feel and mood of the book totally wrong. Plus, it had an inanimate object as the hero.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 11:01 am:   

I have to agree with Robert. The worst book to film adaptation I've seen is Shirley Jackson's The Haunting, in 1999. Shirley had to be rolling in her grave, because that movie was SO over the top, and her novel had been so understated. I actually did walk out, Robert, and slipped into the Blair Witch Project instead, which was playing in the theater across. But then my girlfriend at that time just got motion sick from all the camera panning, so nothing good came of watching movies that day.

I didn't mind Branaugh's Frankenstein that much. It had Helena Bonham Carter in it, which pretty much means I'll be hypnotized for the duration of the movie, even if it's bad.
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Alan DeNiro
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 11:13 am:   

Johnny Mnemonic

*shudder* I'm still pissed about how they completely fucked up one of my favorite short stories of all time.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   

Cronenberg's Naked Lunch. The excuse for this piece of evasive flim-flam was that a "cut-up" novel of heroin and pederasty could not be turned into a commercial movie. Certainly not by Cronenberg, though maybe by Van Sant. But the title and the author's name carry a certain cachet and I suppose there's an art to being perceived as daring instead of beside the point.
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GabrielM
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 08:46 pm:   

Rick is right on. And for another major Cronenberg fuckup, see CRASH.
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Rick Klaw
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 09:17 pm:   

Here are several least favorite movie adaptations:

Haunting 1999 version

Total Recall Awful pointless version of PKD novella. As usual missed the whole point of the story.

Minority Report See above.. and has flat Tom Curise acting and sterile Spielberg direction as well.. *shudder*

The Final Programme Would have been ok except they completely changed the ending and hence whole meaning of the book.

Bram Stoker's Dracula Yawn... made an interesting book very boring

Time Machine The recent guy Pearce version is evil and vile. They took one of the great novels of literature and turned it into a mindless adventure story. Talk about missing the entire point.

Tarzan, The Ape Man Miles O'Keefe as Tarzan and Bo Derek as Jane. 'nuff said

I'm sure there are others, but that's enough for now.

Rick
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 05:52 am:   

I just tried to watch the Guy Pearce Time Machine with my wife last night. About when the Morlocks are attacking the Eloi in broad daylight my wife turned to me and said, "This really blows, we can watch something else." I like how the tried to explain away the fact that it wasn't following Wells' book in the modern library scene where the protagonist (an American played by an Australian) looks up his own writing/research while talking to the 7-Up guy. Interestingly, they could build an avatar that could interact with people on frighteningly near human-like basis (answering questions, showing emotions, offering opinions, following the guy around the library, etc.), but it couldn't recognize that they guy standing in front of it resembled the image of the person in the data. And why could this guy build this beautiful steampunky time machine with bells and whistles and polished metal and--laser beams, what the heck were those?--but had to raise the steps to get into the machine with a piece of twine?

JK
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Rudi Dornemann
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 08:20 am:   

There was an Anime version of Little Nemo which just didn't catch any of the magic of the original comic for me, and not much of Winsor McKay's visual imagination either.

While I agree with everybody who's put Lynch's Dune on the "best" list, there's an extended version that belongs over on this list. It adds in some additional footage but also adds some painful voice-overs to make sure the audience isn't getting lost. In an odd, countrified accent, too. Lynch took his name off that version (I believe the credit reads "directed by Judas Booth.")
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 09:20 am:   

LITTLE NEMO was so disappointing that I wondered if the animators had worked from the original art or were, in fact, doing an adaptation of an earlier, bad animated movie.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 10:16 am:   

I'm not sure it's a least favorite, but the Ninth Gate was not a good adaptation of Club Dumas. It wasn't terrible, but it lost most of the enjoyable elements of the book.

The remake of Planet of the Apes was horrible. Great makeup, but that's the only thing worthwhile in it.

The mini-series of Children of Dune was awful. The scenes with Ian McNeice were watchable, but the rest was unspeakably painful. The first Dune mini-series was OK, but it was a masterpiece compared to CoD. I don't know how much of that is the source material (I only read the first Dune book) or the adaptation.

That Rankin & Bass Return of the King is pure torture. The "Where There's a Whip There's a Way" song still haunts me (and not in a good way).

That's enough painful movie talk for one day.
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Liz Williams
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 11:19 am:   

"Johnny Mnemonic" was a truly dreadful cinematic experience.

This is graphic novel rather than novel per se, but someone is apparently about to make a film of THE PREACHER series. I am not holding my breath...
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Neil Clarke
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 10:41 pm:   

I would have to say that TOTAL RECALL is on the top of my list. It's not even close to the story. Where's the mice?

Right after this would have to be Starship Troopers and the first DUNE movie.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 02:10 pm:   

I haven't read the book or seen the movie, so I can't say anything about the accuracy of the adaptation, but I do know that Battlefield Earth was rated the worst movie ever. Of all time. Poor Travolta.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 02:14 pm:   

The Starship Troopers movie made me angry. The book is one of my favorites, and Hollywood mutilated it. There should be a law against turning great books into nauseating movies, and the penalty for transgression should be death.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 03:45 pm:   

I watched Battlefield Earth to see if it was as bad as the critics made it out to be. It wasn't even close to that bad. It was unwatchable and one of the worst movies I saw that year, but it's on par with drivel like Batman & Robin, and both of those were far more entertaining than Santa With Muscles or some of the films that have been shown on MST3K. And I didn't think the plot was any more asinine than something like The Fast & The Furious (the only movie I've seen that made me think Keanu Reeves could actually act better than some of the people involved).

I guess I'm saying it's horrible, but it's not any worse than much of what comes out of Hollywood.

I've grown sceptical of these "worst movie ever" claims, as each year some of the same critics call some new film the worst ever, sometimes even giving this honor to multiple movies in the same year. The constant hyperbole may be amusing to read at times, but if they keep it up, people will stop paying attention. Indeed, they already are, as movies that are uniformly panned top the box offices.

I've gotten rather off topic, but I get annoyed when such notoriety is given when there are plenty of other films as worthy or more worthy of the dishonor.


I didn't read Starship Troopers, but that movie was bad.
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 08:31 am:   

Never saw BATTEFIELD EARTH, don't really want to. I always see Travolta as Vinny Barbarino and can't buy him in non-NYC roles. I made the mistake of getting cornered at a con by scientologists selling Hubbard books. I sat through a preview of BATTLEFIELD EARTH and their pitch on buying some god awful amount of Hubbard novels for a cheap price before I could extricate myself. Now I know just to be rude.

I watched RESIDENT EVIL late at night with the sound off (so I didn't bug my wife who was trying to sleep) and enjoyed it. A few days later I caught it again with the sound on, hated it. So, while I think it was a good remake of a video game into a movie, it felt just like that: a video game changed into a movie. Not enough plot, no character development, but good action and lots of violence. I don't there have been any good video game adaptations.

THE HAUNTING (1999) was AWFUL. I enjoyed TOMCATS more. I hate the idea of any well-made movie getting remade when it gets older. Take PSYCHO for example, what was wrong with Hitchcock's version so that we had to remake it? And now they're remaking TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE? Why? Because Jessica Biel couldn't be in the original since she hadn't been born? (I don't know if she's in the remake, I'm just venting)

And what's with Disney making its rides into movies? PIRATES might be just fine as a bit of fun action movie, but I shudder at the thought of a IT'S A SMALL WORLD movie.

JK
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William Shunn
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 03:17 pm:   

From the previews, PIRATES definitely looks like it will be more fun than the HAUNTED MANSION film they're making with Eddie Murphy. And Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom ensure that my wife will go see it with me.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Monday, June 23, 2003 - 04:22 am:   

A few nights ago, I saw that Johnny Mnemonic was on TV. Being a Gibson fan, I decided to watch it, but after fifteen minutes I wholeheartedly agreed with this board's consensus: the movie sucks. Wow.
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Tuesday, January 01, 2008 - 12:31 pm:   

Wow, it's amusing to see this thread from the lofty vantage of 2008.

Of course the Number 1 Ass trasgression of book to movie has got to be the Dark is Rising travesty. I didn't see it (of course not! How could I give my money over to this?), but I've seen the trailer and read enough to know that This Is All Wrong.

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